2-time Concord champion finds enjoyment in vintage racing

When late model racing became too expensive for Harrisburg resident Larry Benz, the veteran short-track racer turned to a form of motorsports that’s a throwback to the days of fans being able to easily identify a stock car’s make – Classic Sportsman Racing.

A two-time Concord Speedway dirt track champion who won 42 races in three years, Benz is in his second season in the Classic Sportsman Racing Association. Even though he’s still looking for his first victory, the 53-year-old Benz is second in the standings at Hickory Motor Speedway, just four points behind leader Bob Park. Last year’s Hickory champion, Don Fenn of Lincolnton is third and just six points behind Park.

“It’s pretty cool,” Benz said about Classic Sportsman Racing. “I really didn’t think it would be as much fun, but I’m enjoying it. We just get a trophy, so you don’t have to worry about trying to finish a position ahead to make money to get your tires.”

Benz’s inaugural season in the vintage racing series happened in 2013 after Chuck Thorne asked him to drive his car. He found it so enjoyable that he arranged with Thorne to purchase the 1948 Chevrolet he now drives.

To race in the series a car must be of the 1968 model year or older.

“The cars are neat,” said Benz, who began racing on Concord’s dirt track in the mid-1980s and later competed in the speedway’s Pro Truck and Late Model divisions after the half-mile facility was paved. “Chassis-wise, the rules are such that you can run pretty much whatever chassis you want to run. Mine has a modified chassis under it. There are truck chassis, some old Cup chassis, there’s late model stock chassis – there’s a pretty wide variety of stuff. The rules are pretty open.”

Benz believes the series is “one of the better older car series that I’ve seen.”

“There are seven races, and it’s a lot easier on me,” said Benz, who runs his own automotive repair business. “I don’t have such a hard time trying to make seven (races) like I do trying to run every week. We race hard, but like I said, you don’t have to worry about finishing up a position to make your money.

“There’s a good group of drivers running in that division. There are some good cars up there (Hickory), and I think there will be more to come as time goes on. It’s something different, and the people really enjoy the cars because they can tell what they are. The late models and the limiteds, you can’t tell which division is which and you can’t tell what the car is.”

The next 25-lap Classic Sportsman event is scheduled for May 31 at Hickory Motor Speedway.

Venturini Motorsports claims victory

Concord-based Venturini Motorsports earned its first victory this season May 19 in the Menards 200 ARCA race at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway.

Justin Boston’s victory provided the team with its first Toledo win since Bill Venturini visited victory lane on May 31, 1987. The 24-year-old Boston’s victory came in his 26th start and made him the second driver in Venturini Motorsports history to win at the facility.

Allison collects 1st top-10

Salisbury resident Justin Allison collected his first top-10 finish in ARCA competition in the Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway. Allison qualified his Mooresville-based Team BCR Ford Fusion 10th and finished seventh.

The 21-year-old Allison is the grandson of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison and All-Pro champion Darrell Brown. His next ARCA race is June 7 at Long Pond, Pa.

Stricklin remains 2nd in Hickory standings

Mount Ulla’s Taylor Stricklin is battling rookie Trent Barnes of Whiteford, Md., for the limited late model track championship at Hickory Motor Speedway.

Heading into the Memorial Day weekend, Stricklin trailed Barnes by two points.

Stricklin is the grandson of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison and the son of former NASCAR driver Hut Stricklin.

NCQMA schedules event

The North Carolina Quarter Midget Association has scheduled an Arrive and Drive event for May 31. It is open to children ages 4  1/2 to 16 and the cost is $15 for 15 laps on the association’s Salisbury track.

The quarter midget and all mandatory safety equipment will be provided at the event that begins at 11 a.m.

To register, go to and click on “Pre-Registration for NCQMA Arrive and Drive Event.”